Being Present – Start From Where You Are

“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

When I moved to London several years ago I didn’t really know the place at all. I’d visited a few times with my family for the odd touristy day out but still didn’t know my way around. So when it came to living and working here I knew I had quite a bit of learning to do.

I remember one day arriving at Waterloo Station wondering how to get to Aldermanbury, where I was due to start a new job. I had a vague idea but wasn’t sure about the quickest or most effective means of getting there. So I did what I thought was quite a sensible thing to do (particularly for a man). I asked someone! I approached a smart-suited, professional looking chap in the belief that he was probably a city worker and therefore bound to be able to help.

“Excuse me,” I said, “I’m not from around here. Please can you tell me the best or quickest way to get to Aldermanbury?”

He looked thoughtfully up into the air and pondered for what seemed like an age, and then replied, “Well to be honest with you, I wouldn’t start from here”.

“Thanks,” I thought, “what a rubbish piece of advice!”

The reason that little encounter has always stuck with me is because I think it’s a perfect metaphor for how many people go about trying to achieve a better life for themselves. They may have an idea of where it is they want to get to, but find it hard to take a step in the right direction because they resist the notion of having to start from where they are.

I’ve come to realise over the years that people can only experience dissatisfaction with their life when they believe that their situation should be different to how it actually is. I’ve noticed it with just about every client I’ve ever work with and I’ve certainly experienced it multiple times in my own life. Whilst I’ve helped a ton people work through an array of diverse and unique issues, the conversation that takes place time and time again is the one that invites us to accept reality just the way it is right now, before figuring out what to do next.

What we call ‘the stress of life’ rarely has anything to do with what’s actually going on, and has everything do with our thoughts and interpretations of what’s going on. As Human Beings we don’t ever get to experience the ‘real world’, we only get to experience our own thinking.

If we are unhappy with where we are right now, the cause of the feeling will be rooted in the thought that there is some other place we’d rather be. Or, if we are feeling stuck, that can only be due to the thought that there is a direction we are supposed to be heading in, otherwise there would be no reason to be unstuck.

When we contrast this with the way human experience really works, the only place we can ever get to is right here, right now. Thinking that we are supposed to be anywhere other than right here, right now can literally drive us bonkers.

The most stressful strategy we can adopt for motivating ourselves to change our situation (and don’t worry if you’ve been doing this, most of us have at one time or another) is to direct our emotional energy toward hating the way things are. We convince ourselves that if we can just muster up a strong enough loathing for our current landscape then we will be compelled to take massive action and finally break free from everything that has been holding us back.

There are a few reasons why this is a crappy way of doing things. Not least that it seldom works!
How many times have you heard people complain about how bad some aspect of their life is and yet months, if not years, later absolutely nothing has changed? Over time they just got used to feeling bad; they habituated into their negativity, which not only set them on a path of blaming and complaining, it also shut them off to the kind of inspired thinking they would have needed to turn their ‘right here, right now’ into something better.

In my experience there are three kinds of thought that can cause us to feel dissatisfied with where we are at:

1 – Thoughts about expectation

2 – Thoughts about purpose

3 – Thoughts along the lines of, “Anything would be better than this”

Thoughts about expectation are where we cast judgement on ourselves for how we are currently doing compared to a story we’ve been sold. All of our lives we’ve had the bar set for us by our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, advertisers, glossy mags, even OURSELVES, with regards to the standards and accomplishments we should have reached by this point in our lives. It is where we measure the distance between who we think we are versus who think we should be and then allow the size of the gap (or chasm in some cases) to proportionately dictate how anxious we should be feeling.

Thoughts about purpose are when we get the idea into our heads that we are wasting our lives by not doing the things we would rather be doing to make a positive difference in the world and to make our lives count. It is where we feel that our circumstances and outside influences are preventing us from living our ‘true north’, leaving us stewing in frustration and resentment. The most common reason why this becomes a lingering issue for people is that they make ‘living their purpose’ dependent on a specific set of criteria having to be met.

If you ever wanted to feel really frustrated with your life then I absolutely recommend setting it up in such a way that you cannot be truly happy until you have enough money, energy, creativity, opportunity, support or freedom to do live it out in the specific way you’ve always imagined.

Thoughts that resemble “Anything would be better than this” are what crop up we are not connected to a purpose or direction and have no idea what it is that we want. What we do know, though, is that we’re not having fun right now and attribute that to whatever is happening on the outside. “I’m not happy and, although I’m not entirely sure why that is, it must have something to do with my job, or my boss, or my partner, or my location, so I want to change it all. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to change it to; I just know I’ll be happier when it’s different”. The phrase that springs to mind here is – It doesn’t matter where you go, there you’ll be.

Whenever we think these kinds of thoughts we feel stress. But the only stressful element to it is the thought itself. If nothing changed in our situation other than we were suddenly unable to think those kinds of thoughts, we would simply be people living the lives we’ve got. No comparison, no judgement, no stress.

What I know won’t work is to ask to you not to think those thoughts. As far as I can tell you don’t control that (at least not without years of meditative training); it’s just what the mind does. The smartest and kindest thing you can do to move towards the life you want, is to start by accepting and valuing your currently reality exactly the way it is. Right here, right now is the only place you’ll ever need to get to.

The starting point for any journey will never not be where you already are. As we travel through life we learn that no matter how far we get, we never leave the present. We never leave and yet we are constantly arriving.

To live with the thought that your life is not supposed to be exactly the way it is right now is to be disconnected from the most integral part of the route map of your journey; the beginning.

How do I know you are exactly where you are supposed to be? Because you’re not anywhere else.

So what is the stress-free formula for turning ‘right here, right now’ into a place you would love to hang out? Let’s take a look as I explain your homework for this session.

HOMEWORK

There is a big difference between how you show up in the world when you are trying to prove the circumstances of your life are holding you back and how you show up when you are coming from a place of inspired service. Service in this context simply means giving your best self to the world in this very moment.

There are three ingredients that help things along nicely:

1- Knowledge of how you would like to feel if ‘right here, right now’ were already the happy place you want it to be.

2- An understanding of how you would think and behave differently with that feeling as your guide. How would you treat yourself and how would you interact with others.

3- Patience.

I invite you to take each of these ingredients and add them into the mix of your life straight away.

The instant you “assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled” and operate from that space, the present moment has a habit of transforming in the most wonderful ways.

Initially you’ll notice that nothing has changed and yet everything is different. Over time, with patience, you’ll realise that not only can you peacefully go after whatever it is you want to create in your life, but you can also stay happy, regardless of how the scenery changes along the way.

Take great care. Namaste.

To Succeed When Negotiating Use Questions Strategically To Go From Despondency To Euphoria

When you negotiate, do you use questions strategically, to go from despondency to euphoria? During negotiations, some negotiators become despondent, because they don’t know how to answer questions.

During a negotiation, your emotional perspective and the way you respond to questions determine the flow and outcome of the negotiation. If you wish to become more adept at negotiating, you must use questions to control the flow of the negotiation.

Become better positioned to achieve successful outcomes in your negotiations, by considering the following information.

1. How should you respond to questions and control the flow of the negotiation?

• To control the flow of a negotiation, only answer questions that are pertinent to your position. If a question is posed that could support your position, but you feel it might be the source of potential friction, consider acknowledging it with a gesture and ask that it be put aside until another phase of the negotiation. If the question is not appropriate to advance your position, don’t lend credence to it. Ignore it. You can use a shrug of the head, or some other nonverbal gesture, to dismiss it.

2. Use questions to answer questions, as a way of directing and controlling the flow of a negotiation.

• Another way to alleviate your despondency when confronted with questions is to respond by asking a question (e.g. Question asked of you – What’s the per unit cost? Your response – Is the per unit cost important to you?). If you have control of the negotiation, the other negotiator will be obligated to answer your question, while forgoing a response to his own. While he’s answering your question(s), you’re gathering more information and controlling the flow of the negotiation.

3. Use body language to convey your questions succinctly and with authority.

• In order to have your question(s) perceived with authority, be sure your body language is synchronized with the manner by which you pose questions (e.g. If a question is meant to put the other negotiator in a somber mood, consider presenting your question in a manner that represents such a demeanor. In essence, don’t smile if you’re trying to make the other negotiator experience dread, unless you’re attempting to be sinister.)

If you want to experience the euphoric feeling one has when reaching a successful negotiation outcome, enhance your abilities to use questions as a strategic negotiation tool. Once you acquire the skill to direct the negotiation with questions, you’ll increase the positive outcomes of your negotiations… and everything will be right with the world. Remember, you’re always negotiating.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

• The ranges of emotions experienced in a negotiation are tied directly to how you answer and ask questions. Answer questions with this thought in mind.

• Negotiators experience a wide range of emotions, promoted by the questions posed. In order to become a better negotiator, learn to use questions strategically.

• By posing and responding to questions strategically, you decrease the potential for despondency and improve your chances of reaching a successful outcome.

4 Things A Presenter Should Never Do

Check with just about any professional speaker or pick up a book at the book store on public speaking and you’ll get some great advice. They’ll tell you exactly what you SHOULD be doing. That’s all good, but what’s been missing has been anyone talking about the other side of that coin – what should you NOT be doing?

Don’t Apologize To Your Audience

Things happen. In fact a lot of things happen that we really have no control over. As a presenter, you’ve got to learn to just go with the flow.

During your presentation you may realize that something is wrong with one of the slides that you are using. You may realize that something is missing from your slides. None of this really matters to your audience.

When you start to apologize to your audience, they are going to start to see you in a different light. Since you have already screwed something up, they are going to start to wonder what else you are getting incorrect.

It’s a natural human reaction to want to apologize for things that happen that you didn’t plan on. Stifle this tendency. Say nothing and move on – your audience will never know and you’ll remain the expert presenter in their eyes.

Don’t Tell The Audience Why They Should Care

All too often I see speakers take the stage and then launch into their presentation without doing the correct first step. This first step is taking a moment to have a talk with your audience about why they are there and why you are there.

If you can’t answer this question right off the bat, then the purpose for your entire presentation will be lost. It’s your responsibility to tell your audience why they should care about what you are going to be talking about.

You are in a unique position: you know what you are going to be talking about. Your job before you start your presentation is to take the time to tell your audience why what you are going to be saying is important to them.

Don’t Customize Your Presentation To Your Audience

One of the greatest sins that a presenter can make is to use a generic presentation with an audience. Every audience is different and deserves to have a custom presentation.

When we create a speech, we always have to picture some type of audience in our minds. Hopefully when we give the speech, we’ll be giving it to that type of audience. If we go on and give the speech to another audience, then the speech needs to be changed and shaped to meet the needs of that audience.

If you don’t do this, then the speech will never make an impact. Your ability to connect with an audience relies on talking to them in their language so that you can make a real connection.

Don’t Overload Your Audience

You are too smart and that’s a problem. If you are not careful, you’ll write your speech from your point-of-view and not your audience’s. This could result in a data overload situation.

You need to remember that the reason that your audience has come to listen to what you have to say is that they believe that they can learn something. No matter what the format of your speech is, they believe that you’re going to tell them something that is going to allow them to see the world in a different way when you are done.

If you share everything that you know about your topic with them, then they are quickly going to become overloaded – it’s just too much to take in. Once this happens, you will have lost them. They’ll leave your speech feeling confused, upset, and angry.

You need to match your speech’s content to the amount of time that you’ll be talking for. Your goal should be to share new information with your audience, but only enough so that they walk away with a few new ideas. Don’t try to share everything with them in a single speech.

What All Of This Means For You

Great speakers know what they have to do in order to win the hearts and minds of their audiences. They also know what they should not do.

These speakers avoid simple mistakes such as apologizing to their audiences, forgetting to tell the audience why they should care about what the speaker is going to talk about, forgetting to customize their presentation, and overloading their audience with too much information.

These mistakes are easy to avoid – but first you have to know that they are out there. Once you do, you’ll be well on your way to delivering fantastic presentations…